A Few Highlights From My Year So Far

This leucistic American Robin was a nice surprise one April afternoon.

This leucistic American Robin was a nice surprise one April afternoon.

Watching a pair of Peregrine Falcons achieve top speed as they dove at a flock of Mourning Doves was a sight I'll never forget.

Watching a pair of Peregrine Falcons achieve top speed as they dove at a flock of Mourning Doves was a sight I’ll never forget.

When I think back to all the birds I’ve seen and photographed this year, a few stand out. With over a month left in this year there is still time to see a new species or two but some will be hard to top. To date I’ve seen and photographed over 150 species within the city of London. I am constantly amazed at the many different species that either live in or pass through our great city.

In January I found myself walking the banks the Thames River every chance I got searching for the many Bald Eagles that use the river as a food source throughout the winter. I had quite a bit of success and found the colder and more miserable the weather the better. Not ideal conditions for photography but I usually saw at least one eagle. Several species of waterfowl wintered on the river including Common Goldeneye and three types of Merganser.

Once spring approached the warbler migration was in full swing. I observed many species that were new to me with my favourite being the male Blackburnian Warbler. It’s black and white body with bright orange head and throat were a real treat to see. In April I managed a few shots of a leucistic American Robin as it searched for food in the grass at a local park. Leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in animals. Another April highlight was watching a pair of Peregrine Falcons hunting Mourning doves off a line of hydro wires. You cannot appreciate the speed of this bird until you witness it in person.

Summer was a little slow for birding, but the resident Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, and Indigo Buntings provided lots of colourful pictures. The highlight of summer was coming across a White-tailed Doe and her two fawns at one my favorite birding places. I still encounter this family and have watched the two fawns go from being smaller than my dog and covered in spots, to being not recognizable as fawns unless next to their mother.

As fall set in their were plenty more warbler opportunities, the return of many sparrows, and of course the fall raptor migration. Seeing a kettle of 30 Broad Winged Hawks over the Thames River a mere blocks from downtown was an impressive sight. The Rusty Blackbird was a new species for me that I was able to photograph at Westminster Ponds ESA.

Now that  we are into late fall and winter nears, I am hoping to add more birds to my list. Owls are a species in particular that have eluded my lens in the past but I am optimistic that will soon change. Hopefully all of you have had great success birding this year and encountered a new species or two. The possibility of encountering something new is what drives us all.

Good birding,
Paul

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